All posts by jessiehale

What I’ve Been Working On

I’ve had the great pleasure recently of holding in my hands several books that I edited, proofread, or otherwise agonized over in one form or another. Although most of the books I work on are destined for publication, the sad fact of freelancing is that you often don’t get to see the finished product.

But in the past few months, I’ve gotten to see and touch and hold a few very different books that I was seeing for the first time despite having read them each more than once.

voice-in-between-179x300It was particularly special to see a printed copy of Charlene Challenger’s The Voices in Between. I had been working with Charlene for over a year when the book was printed and delivered, and had read it at least eight times while working on the substantive edit. Eight times is a lot of times, but there was something pretty magical and indescribable about opening the book and seeing on paper the words I had read so many times and spent so long considering alternatives for. The Voices in Between is the story of a teenage (queer! non-white! lower-class!) girl who finds her life thrown upside down when she lands in the In Between, a mysterious alternate universe where mistreated children find solace (or do they???).

9781771131094_432_648_90At The Word on the Street festival this past Sunday, I saw IRL the finished version of A Line in the Tar Sands: Struggles for Environmental Justice, a massive and massively important book about Canada’s tar sands industry and what is being done to stop it. I copyedited and proofread the book, and it was interesting to read essays from Indigenous and other activists working against Big Oil, and then to open my newspaper the next morning and read about that same work. The fight against climate change is overwhelming and scary, but working on books like this feels in some small way like contributing.

Kulu_cover_snd1-300x236Finally, the Inhabit Media office basically shut down for several hours this afternoon as we all admired Sweetest Kulu, which I proofread and which has been highly anticipated because it’s a beautiful bedtime poem with a really lovely message, and besides all that, OH MY GOD HAVE YOU SEEN THAT BABY, no, seriously, the cute is out of control. In this book, the titular Kulu (an Inuktitut term of endearment for babies) receives gifts from the animals of the Arctic tundra and seas, including the muskox, polar bear, and narwhal. And sorry to sound #basic, but the baby. Look at that baby! I can’t even.

I think all these books are not only very good and worth reading in terms of their literary quality, but also very important and necessary. Contributing even slightly to bringing these stories and messages to an audience feels like a job well done.

All three books are now available in the usual spaces, and don’t forget to check your local bookstores!


Editing Teaches You Stuff: Ravens Are Awesome, Basically

Once I was waiting somewhere for my mom to pick me up, and I saw a crow hopping around outside. As this was before smart phones, I had nothing to do to pass the time, so I leaned forward to get a better view. The crow was happily enjoying a cannibalistic meal of another, dead, crow.

The fact that I still remember this, at least ten years later, is testament to how disgusting it was.

So I never really liked crows, and never bothered to learn very much about them. Which is too bad, because it turns out that crows are 100 percent badass.


Continue reading Editing Teaches You Stuff: Ravens Are Awesome, Basically

BookCamp, #DiverseCanLit, and the 25-Book Pledge

On Saturday I attended BookCamp TO. BookCamp is kind of like Book Summit’s wild-child younger sister: less organized, less predictable, and with a lot more tattoos. 

While I attended really great sessions on events, freelancing, and internships (where I may or may not have gotten really rowdy and high-pitched; it’s a topic I have some opinions about), the most inspiring conversations for me happened at the session on diversity in Canadian literature and publishing, and on Twitter following the session. 

Continue reading BookCamp, #DiverseCanLit, and the 25-Book Pledge

Go Home, English, You’re Drunk: Can Men Be Fertile?

A new, semi-regular series where I explore the English language and all its weird, stupid quirks.


Today I came across the phrase “male fertility.” If I had been reading the text like a normal person, I would have barely noticed it. But I was reading like an editor, which means that things that should be totally normal seem totally weird.

Can people with male reproductive systems be “fertile”? When you think about it, it doesn’t really make sense. Fertility, as a term, originally referred to land; put a seed into fertile land and it will bear crops. By rights, then, fertility should only refer to the female capacity to grow babies. Males plant the seed. Females bear the crops. Males should be referred to as “potent,” or its rather unfortunate antonym, “impotent.” I mean, right?! Am I overthinking this?

Yes, as usual. The Canadian Oxford Dictionary, final arbiter on correctness in all situations, defines fertile as “able to produce offspring,” with no gender restrictions. Fertile is an equal-opportunity adjective. 

Just part of the glamorous life of an editor!

Editing Teaches You Stuff: Dor-dor

One of my favourite things about editing is that you get to learn about all kinds of weird stuff that you never would have otherwise. It’s kind of like being back in university, if all of your courses were completely random, really specific, and only lasted about two weeks.

I thought I’d start a regular feature where I share some of these random-but-interesting tidbits. Today: dor-dor.

Continue reading Editing Teaches You Stuff: Dor-dor